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Plastic Samsung Galaxy S4 design ‘a mistake’ says rival

Luke Johnson


Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S4

The plastic build quality of the Samsung Galaxy S4 was ‘a mistake’ that could cause consumers to lose faith in the brand, a rival manufacturer has suggested.

One of the few areas of Samsung’s latest flagship phone which has come under criticism from consumers, the plastic construction afforded to the Samsung Galaxy S4 does not fit with the handset’s high-end array of innards and premium price tag. What’s more, it has been suggested to devalue the phone.

Questioned on the most popular handset on the market right now, Nick Woodley, Head of ID Design for Huawei has stated: “I would say the plastic build of the Samsung Galaxy S4 was a mistake yes.”

Suggesting that consumers could feel cheated by the metal effect plastic body of the Samsung Galaxy S4, Woodley has claimed that smartphone owners are demanding more honest in the materials used in their new, high-end purchases.

“We did a report for the HQ design team and the biggest trend we pulled out was one of authenticity,” Woodley said in an exclusive interview with TrustedReviews. “If you start with plastic and paint it to look like metal initially it will look ok but a week later when you have dinged it and the paint has fallen off, the secret is out and people start to feel cheated.”

He added: “I think the more honest you can build into these things the better people perceive it and I think that is probably what’s gone wrong there with Samsung, people will be thinking ‘hang on I’ve just paid a lot of money for this and that’s not real metal’.”

Despite the less than premium materials used in the handset’s design, the Samsung Galaxy S4 has seen its 5-inch, 1080p Full HD display and 1.9GHz quad-core processor help it dominate the smartphone market. The handset’s closest rivals, the HTC One and iPhone 5, both sport superior, metal form factors, however.

“People have always wanted metal phones,” Woodley stated. “If you asked consumers if they would prefer a metal phone or a plastic phone they would more than likely always prefer metal. It is an inherently honest material that people respond to.”

Having last week unveiled the metal clad Huawei Ascend P6, the world’s thinnest smartphone at just 6.18mm thick, Woodley has claimed that “the move to the metal chassis is all about perceived quality.”

He added: “We wanted to produce the thinnest phone that actually feels solid, that is durable and feels like precision and high quality as opposed to just going for the thinnest thing possible.”

Read More: Samsung Galaxy S4 vs HTC One


June 24, 2013, 2:47 pm

he's not wrong but I think it's mainly the finish on the plastic, the gloss... the polycarbonate plastic of nokia's was a great industrial design development which in most ways is better than metals, and consumers know that. In the future when phones become bendy this design language will have to develop unless we have metal phones full of hinges like chainmail jackets. A good plastic is good, it's when it feels like a kinder egg toy that people start to question the quality.


June 24, 2013, 4:22 pm

Actually, most of the noise about the plastic comes from journos, hacks, 'analysts', commentators and their ilk. Oh yes, and of course green-eyed competitors whose phones don't sell all that well. Comment is easy, and mostly meaningless.

But x-million customers who actually weighed the decision of money vs value and decided the value outweighed the money, they all knew it was made of plastic and still laid down their money.

Huwei and journos, by contrast, are only interested here in column inches and clicks.


June 24, 2013, 5:18 pm

"Plastic" vs metal, specific absorption rate (SAR, EU versions) :
Samsung Galaxy S4: 0.42 W/kg
HTC One : 0.86 W/kg
iPhone 5: 0.95 W/kg

Feel free to get at least 2 times more RF emissions thanks to your soda can aluminium 'premium' design.


June 24, 2013, 9:03 pm

Nothing cheap about plastic. Polymers are very strong. I have the S4 and it doen't look or feel cheap.


June 24, 2013, 10:23 pm

I prefer one where I can pull the battery. With metal phones, that usually isn't possible.


June 24, 2013, 10:44 pm

Uhm... are we surprised that a competitor doesn't like Samsung's phones?!? I don't even know what Huawei is... more reason for me to dismiss this article entirely.

I wouldn't be surprised if this article is a paid advertisement.


June 25, 2013, 2:11 am

I don't understand this supposed value in "metal". What's the first thing everyone does with their iPhone anyway? That's right, they put it in a thick rubbery-plastic case. IMO, I'd like manufacturers to think about eliminating the need for an add-on case by building in some bumpers or whatever, and giving some preference to making room for a bigger battery.

Yap Gris Som

June 25, 2013, 3:09 am

I have Samsung Galaxy S3, don't feel cheap as the author mentioned above. The plastic material is good to hold, solid and premium just like others.

Instead, I feel very happy because it has replaceable battery and additional micro SD slot.


June 25, 2013, 3:19 pm

Since when is metal a more "honest" phone? Samsung has never lied about the S4 being plastic at all. Terrible article. The best he could come up with was "perceived quality"? Sounds like a lemming to me. Rather than evaluate reality, he focuses on "perception". I guess the missing apple logo made the phone inferior ha ha. I'd much rather have a superior product than phony 'perceived' quality.


August 1, 2013, 11:38 am

I prefer a phone that doesn't magically pop the back off and throw the battery across the floor if you drop it. Samsung have always been a sack of plastic crap. Only haters don't buy an iphone.


August 1, 2013, 11:46 am

irrespective of the material used, the people that use cases do so because they are frightened of damaging their $750/£500 phone


August 29, 2013, 8:01 am

Actually polycarbonate is not a ''cheap'' material. It's very strong. Cheaper one is Aluminum. GS4's front desgin is beautiful in my opinion. It looks premium but I don't likes back design. Problem is back design in my opinion.

Riley Jackson

January 11, 2014, 8:48 am

Hello, I realize this thread is rather old, but I am a very frustrated Samsung S4 owner and need somewhere to vent.

First of all I am a huge Android fan, I love Cyanogenmod and the virtually endless customization. I owned a Sony Ericsson previously, I had some minor complaints about that phone, but it was a solid device that stood up extremely well over the years I had it.

Around the time the S4 came out, I was in the market for a new phone. I thought about another Sony, but opted to try Samsung as it was the clear winner in the specs department. In that respect I am quite pleased with the device, it is very fast and the 1080p screen is beautiful. But that is about the extent of the compliments I can think of for at least my particular S4.

Where to begin with the cons...

Well, the first thing that broke was the proximity sensor. When you are in a phone call, the proximity sensor correctly senses when you put it to your ear, but then the sensor stays stuck in that state even after you remove it from your head. There are only two solutions to turn the screen back on; a) pull the battery and reset the phone after every phone call, or b) if you tightly squeeze the top right corner of the device in a particular place, it seems to reset the sensor and the screen comes back on (guess how long it took me to figure that workaround out). Apparently this has been a common problem for some time, since the original Galaxy, Samsung has done nothing to correct it.

Next is the "metal" colour painted plastic, this started showing signs of wear after barely four months. Now after about eight months most of the metal paint is gone, exposing an ugly white plastic underneath. It reminds me of cheap toys I had as a child, only I'm pretty sure those lasted longer than a year before all their paint wore off.

Finally the headset. The original earphones that came with the phone broke after a couple months, the remote/mic and right earphone that's attached to it stopped working. The remote function is important to me, so I bought another identical stock OEM Samsung headset to ensure the remote worked correctly. It worked for a couple months, then the remote/mic and right earphone stopped working. I am now on my third OEM Samsung headset, the remote/mic and right earphone have just stopped working, prompting me to write this rant. The stock headset that came with my previous Sony Ericsson lasted nearly the entire time I had that device, almost three years.

This is definitely the first and last Samsung phone I will ever buy. They make nice TVs, but those don't generally have to ride around in a pocket and sustain abuse. Next will either be a Motorola (interested now that they're owned by Google and building phones IN the US) or a Nexus, or maybe another Sony.

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